State officials are assembling a new "Generation Iowa Commission" that Governor Culver says may help "plug the brain drain." Legislators passed a bill establishing the commission and the governor signed it into law this week.
Representative Elesha Gayman, a Democrat from Davenport, was one of the bill’s sponsors. "As I looked around and (saw) my peers leave the state, I decided to do something about it," she says. Gayman is 28 years old and is serving her first term in the Iowa House.
"I’m excited for the creative ideas that will come from this commission and I think it will definitely work to improve the quality of the state." Representative Andrew Wenthe, a 29-year-old Democrat from Hawkeye, is another rookie lawmaker who helped craft the bill.
"As we all know, the state of Iowa is getting older and there is a generation of Baby Boomers who are going to leave the workplace shortly," he says. "It’s critical for our state to welcome young people with open arms." Wenthe says the commission is to "advise" Department of Economic Development officials on the best ways to make living in Iowa more attractive to young people.
"Coming from a rural district, I know of lots of young people who want to live and work and raise their families in rural Iowa, but there needs to be opportunities for them to do that and I think this bill and this commission’s going to provide that platform to get those ideas out there," Wendt says. Some experts predict that by 2012, Iowa will be short 150,000 workers and Governor Culver says Iowa’s business community will welcome the work of the Generation Iowa Commission.
"We need input from young Iowans to take action to make this state the place they envision it should be," Culver says. The governor will appoint the 15 members of the commission. Members of the panel must be at least 18, but cannot be more than 35 years old.